The exhibition was founded as The Baltic Triennial of Young Contemporary Art in Lithuania in 1979 while the country was under the occupation of the Soviet Union. The Triennial was a result of expectation, invested in the concept of youth after the end of Stalinist period. But that generation of young artists also expressed a critical non-conformist spirit considered dangerous in the totalitarian regime.
During the whole Soviet period and until the end of the eighties the Triennial provoked passionate discussions in political as well as artistic discourse. The exhibition has a long tradition of showing emerging art. In the times of the Soviet Union, it provided the only possibility for international exchange and was the sole showplace for avant-garde art. After the restoration of independent Lithuania in 1990, the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) became the hosting institution of the Baltic Triennial in Vilnius. The CAC, directed by Kestutis Kuizinas and a young team of curators, became the primary place for contemporary art in the Baltic States.